Women of the day were not educated and not very well respected. There were basically three classes a woman fit into: a slave who was, well, a slave; a citizen, to be married off by her father and ruled by her husband; a Hetaerae, who was an educated prostitute. If women were so controlled and stifled, why then are there so many bad ass Greek Goddesses? It seems that there are earlier writings, though not so many surviving, which indicate women were held in esteem in society and ritual. As patriarchal education emerged, respect for women and their rights sadly decreased. One important role women maintained was that of religious and ritual significance. I guess the old patriarchal farts were too cautious to risk seeing what would happen if the temples to Artemis were torn down and replaced by penis monuments. Ok, so maybe Aphrodite was down with that, much to Sappho’s irritation, but Athena was having none of it.
While the hetaerae were free to roam about, amusing themselves with shopping, the theatre, strumming a lyre or other objects, the world was small for the average Athenian woman. She was forced to remain inside the home always, save for a ritual or two. If she were to use Twitter and Tweet out her day, here’s something we might see from *AthensIsForAtholes*:
7:08 Eat small piece of bread soaked in wine. Still hungry, but must be careful about figure.
7:09 Peck husband on cheek, send him off to the agora. Sigh. Look at 4 bare (slightly tinted) walls. Rarely allowed out of house, prepare for another day at home.
7:15 Summon hand maiden for cooling with huge peacock feather.
8:30 All dressed up with no place to go, wander into kitchen, see a piece of honey cake. Resist.
9:27 Hear argument between two servants, rush out to mediate.
11:15 Wander into courtyard near flowerbed where slave girls are spinning and giggling. Ask to join them. Reminded this is improper behavior - they suggest I get ready 4 lunch.
12:15 Husband arrives, chiding about the foolishness of make-up. Pretend to agree. Husband leaves at 12:22
3:00 Instruct daughter on her duties of being a wife.
8:05 With husband sit down at low table to dinner; bread, oil, wine, a few figs, small portion of fish (only 320 calories) and beans. Hear about his day. Tells me shouldn't bother about the affairs of men. Pretend to agree. Too hungry to argue.
10:10 Fall asleep. I do not dream of tomorrow.
(I adapted this into tweet format, excusing the occasional liberties of more than 140 words, from Lynn Schnurnberger's book Let There be Clothes: 40,000 Years of Fashion)
I’ve come across some items from the time period in discussion here, but one must wonder which woman they belonged to. The housewife or the hussy? Regardless, these are some gorgeous bits of a woman’s toilette, a hand mirror, an arm band, and a cosmetic jar; picture them on a dressing table 2,500 years ago.